Formerly the Indian Nation Trail (INT), the Choctaw Nation Trail is a 43 mile multi-use trail that connects Holson Valley with the Kiamichi Valley. As far as I know there are not any official mile designations, either on the trail or in public documents, so these narratives will begin with mile one in Holson Valley. The entire trail is presented on two web pages of OuachitaMaps.com and with five maps. The renaming is recent and I will continue to use the INT until the I reprint the maps.
Overview: The trail begins on the Holson Valley Loop map on FR 8552, located at the just east of the big turn on the Holson Valley Road. The INT goes west where it is covered by the Boardstand-Old Military Road Loop map and coincides with both named trails. On the north flank of Winding Stair Mountain the INT splits from the Old Military Road Trail and crosses Talimena Drive East of Old Military Road Vista. The Talimena-Bohannon Loop map shows the trail as it descends the south side of Winding Stair, crosses the Ouachita Trail several times, reaches the valley floor near Talimena State Park and heads east to a point north of Bohannon Lake. The Bohannon to Lennox Ridge and Lennox Ridge to Billy Creek maps cover the INT on its eastward course to FR 6020, north of Billy Creek Campground. The trail is well blazed with yellow paint and 4x6 yellow wooden signs with “INT” written in black.
The Maps: There are three maps on this page and two on the Bohannon to Billy Creek page. All of the maps on this page are part of the Loop Trail set and are nominal 1:24,000 based on USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle topographic maps. They have been slightly reduced to fit each loop trail on its own map. Each map is printed in color on 11x17, "Rite in the Rain” all weather writing paper. The hiking trails were mapped with a WAAS enabled GPS and each is drawn in different colors. The Indian Nation Trail is shown in yellow or with yellow dots on all relevant maps. Also shown are other trails and forest roads not shown on the standard quads. Other features include trailheads, segment mileage, general directions, waypoints and waypoint coordinates.
FR 8552 to Boardstand: The INT begins on the Holson Valley map at FR 8552 and heads west. The first 2.4 miles takes you along the top of a small ridge, down and across a small creek, up to and along FR 8553 to the junction of what I call the Dozer Road. The small creek is intermittent so there may not be any water in summer or early fall. A 400 foot climb on the Dozer Road will take you to the Ouachita Trail and several opportunities for loop hikes. See the Holson Valley Loop page for more information.
Leaving FR 8553 to the west, the trail descends to a rocky outcrop and a small creek. This may be a more reliable water source than the previous creek. The trail passes through a small hollow and then follows FR 6551 past a field. At 4.2 miles the trails leaves the road, heads back into the woods over a small saddle and finally reaches the junction with the Boardstand Trail at 6.0 miles.
Boardstand Junction to Talimena Drive: The Boardstand-Old Military Road map overlaps with the Holson Valley map at the Boardstand junction. The junction is on an old forest road, where the white blazes of the Boardstand lead south into the wood and up Winding Stair Mountain to the Ouachita Trail. Heading west, the INT and Boardstand will share the same path for the next 5.1 miles. The trail is marked with both the white of the Boardstand and yellow/sign of the INT.
Near the junction is a wildlife pond and lots of flat spots in the woods for camping. The pond is definitely not my first choice for water, but it is dependable if Redbank Creek is dry. A tip I learned from one of the members of the Lone Star Trail Hiking Club that would come in handy here is to rubber band a coffee filter over the water filter intake. A convenient pre-filter in case you can’t get the intake hose into deep water.
The trail leaves the road bed and heads into the woods heading up hill. It crosses FR A08C, descends to Lillard Creek and at 8.5 miles crosses FR 6010. To the south, FR 6010 climbs Winding Stair Mountain and comes out on Talimena Drive just west of Deadman Gap Vista. To the north, is its junction with the Holson Valley Road.
A little past FR 6010 the trail passes a couple of small campsites on a small creek. I’ve seen this bone dry so many times we started caching water off 6010. Except for crossing a couple forest roads, the trail stays in the woods on a single track until the junction with the Old Military Trail at 11.1 miles. At the junction, the Boardstand turns north east and ends at the Holson Valley Trailhead. A tenth of a mile towards the trailhead is a small outcrop and waterfall.
Going straight at the junction (WSW), the INT is now sharing its path with the Old Military Road Trail. The blazing is still white or yellow/INT sign. The trail bumps up over several hills and down through three creek beds before it changes its westerly course to more of a southerly one. At 14.5 miles, you will cross FR 6555. After starting up a fairly steep hill, the INT will depart the Old Military Road Trail to the east (15.8 miles).
This next section is a series of many shallow switchbacks. At 17.1 miles the trail crosses Talimena Drive and follows an old road bed for about 0.5 miles. At this point you can either continue using the Boardstand-Old Military Road map, or switch to the Talimena Bohannon Loop map.
The INT leaves the road bed, goes down hill and crosses the Ouachita Trail at 17.8 miles. Then it turns west and crosses it two more times. A little after the third crossing, the trail will go down a hill and into an open area. The trail goes straight but it will soon become lost in the shrubs of a clear cut area. If you can tell where you are when you hit the open area, turn left (SSW) and watch for the INT crossing it. Turn left (SE) and you will have avoided the abandoned section of trail. The INT continues down the south flank of Winding Stair Mountain until after a steep little decent, comes out on forest road K00 near Talimena State Park (19.8 miles).
Talimena State Park to Bohannon Trial: While there is still some overlap with the Boardstand map, you will need the Talimena Bohannon Loop map to finish this section.
Turning right on K00 will lead you to the state park. We will turning left (east) and head towards Bohannon Lake. The trail follows the forest road across a creek and at mile 20.2 heads into the woods. Cross Blackjack Ridge at 21.2 miles and FR 6132 at 21.8 miles.
Over the next 3.2 miles, the trail stays in the woods but crosses several forest roads. Many of these roads are marked yellow as equestrian trials. If you end up on one of these roads following a yellow blaze without seeing an INT sign, you may have missed the turn. Not having a map of the trail, we turned the wrong way and followed an equestrian trail for over a mile before we turned around. If we had turned the other way, we would have seen the INT dodge back into the woods in about 100 feet. And it was marked with a sign.
At 25 miles, the trail climbs a small hill to FR 6010, South Deadman Road. Going north leads to Talimena Drive and going south will take you to State Highway 63 west of Whitesboro. Coming from Highway 63, the turn is marked the Camp Tom Hale Road.
The INT goes south on 6010 for less than 0.2 miles, turns east on another road bed and finally heads back into the woods on a down hill run. At the foot of the ridge the trail levels off and enters the Bohannon Valley. Bohannon Creek is a pretty reliable water source. If it is dry, however, there is water in Bohannon Lake. While all of the forest roads are public, Boy Scout Camp Tom Hale owns the land around the lake.
At 27.2 miles is the junction of the Bohannon Trail. The Talimena Bohannon Loop uses this multi-use trail to connect the INT with the Ouachita Trail. At the junction, head southeast for 0.1 miles, turn right on FR 6015, go 0.15 miles and turn left on another forest road. If you keep going south on 6015, you’ll pass through Camp Hale and ultimately end up at Highway 63.
The rest of the INT is covered on the Bohannon-Billy Creek page.